Professional Carwashing & Detailing

The blow down on in-bay automatic dryers

June 2, 2011

The carwash industry creates many new products and services to constantly enhance the carwash experience for both the owner and the carwash client. In addition to the new terminology (e.g. in-bay automatic, mounted on board, wall mounted, freestanding, cfm’s, etc.) it also creates learning opportunities for you, the wash owner.

This article is devoted to explaining the layman terms, the usage(s), and types of dryers available to in-bay owners. If you are reading this article as an in-bay automatic proprietor then you are about to realize that you possess a great advantage to achieve the “cardinal rules” in carwashing. That is, you will enhance your clients’ wash experience and will generate more revenue or perceived value.

Dryers today come in numerous sizes, shapes and styles. It’s important to know what options to consider and why they make a difference. Aside from jumping in and adding another piece of equipment to your in-bay, you first need to know your space considerations. Some dryers require as much as 12 feet of floor space, others fit in as little as 28 feet. Dryers can be mounted on-board, (for those with no floor space) or they can be mounted on the wall (wall mounts have definite draw backs and should be used in extreme space situations.) Ideally, the dryer needs to meet your space requirements either inside or outside of your in-bay automatic. For this, we find the freestanding dryer to be ideal. The freestanding dryer requires less cycle time, so you can wash more cars per hour. They can go where you want them, even outside your wash with a vending option, which equals more cash for your bottom line. Some dryer manufacturers have specially designed freestanding products for limited space, so be sure and check all of your options since space is the first and foremost consideration.

Dryers keep going through evolutions. Some manufacturers use combinations of plastic, aluminum, steel, polymer, resin, or even stainless for the dryer housing unit. Each has a pro and con and ultimately your personality and style can determine what your dryer will be. In general the higher the quality of the housing material, the longer the external longevity of the dryer and the nicer your wash will appear to your clients.

Aside from the space requirement and the housing unit in determining your dryer you will need to evaluate the airflow of the dryer. The whole purpose of a dryer is to dry or get most of the water off of a freshly washed wet car. If the airflow of the dryer doesn’t move the water beads off, it’s not going to help you achieve your cardinal carwash goal — and then the whole concept is self-defeating. In general, you should look for a minimum of 5,000 CFM. Of course the higher the airflow, the better. There are manufacturers who provide units of up to 9,600 CFM per producer. Higher is always better as more air is blowing the water away and off the car.

After determining the size capability of your wash, the housing, the style, the air flow, etc., you then need to determine the reliability/maintenance of the product as well as the manufacturer’s warranty. Manufacturers who believe in their products are usually willing to stand behind them. Some manufacturers offer the standard one year, while others offer lifetime warranties. Make sure you check, or once again, you’ll be defeating your ultimate carwash goal.

One word about maintenance, a down wash or one that is always broken hinders the whole perceived value for the customer. Make sure that you not only get a great warranty, but make sure there isn’t much that can breakdown in the first place. A general rule: The more moving parts there are, the greater the chance for something to break.

The freestanding dryer can help in one other way, which is in marketing your wash. For example, if the unit is outside, customers see they get something else (perceived value) and they won’t have to dry their cars after using your in-bay automatic wash. Also, the freestanding dryer allows you to add it anytime later to your in-bay wash.

Dryers in general are designed to last from five to 10 years. There are products that are built to last a lifetime. Know your own personal style, budget and cost appreciation. Do the math homework and see what makes sense for your in-bay dryer experience before you make a purchase. Numbers, time, and references can really make a difference in choosing a dryer wisely.

Adding a dryer to the in-bay automatic wash is about adding value to your customer’s experience. It’s about making their in-bay experience first class and top of the line. A dryer can do just that by providing customers with a dry car with few wash spots, and just sparkle and shine instead. (Make sure your dryer manufacturer recommends a good drying agent.)

Also, if you want to blow your customers away, add a blower. Determine freestanding or other application, the appearance you want, consider the airflow, reliability, quality, life of the product, the warranty and reputation of the manufacturer and then go for it! You will make an informed choice and achieve the ultimate goals for your carwash.


Arthur D. Stephens, Jr. has been in the carwashing industry for 30 years. He is the owner of International Drying Corporation, of Crystal Lake, IL, and owner of Crystal Service Group. For more information, visit www.internationaldrying.com.